Mini-Review: BLACK SCIENCE, Vol.1 – “How To Fall” (Image)

BlackScience-Vol.01A fascinating, strange, and engaging science fiction series

Writer: Rick Remender | Artists: Matteo Scalera & Dean White

Grant McKay has done the impossible! Using the Pillar, he has punched a hole through the barriers between dimensions, allowing travel to all possible universes. But now Grant and his team are trapped in the folds of infinity, the Pillar sending them careening through a million universes of unimaginable adventure, sanity-flaying danger and no way home…

Collects: Black Science #1-6

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Black Science. It received a healthy amount of pre-publication buzz – not surprising, given that it’s written by Remender (Deadly Class, Low, Captain America, Uncanny Avengers). Things move pretty quickly in this book, as readers are thrown straight into the action, which never lets up. The series includes everything you might want from a multi-dimensional action/adventure: strange and dangerous situations, back-stabbing, a larger conspiracy, weird and wonderful fauna, interesting technology. It also has everything we have come to expect from Remender: excellent story-telling and well-rounded, diverse characters. The story builds quite excellently over the course of the book, and I felt myself sink in as it took hold completely.

I want to avoid going into too much detail, as things move very fast. Grant is an interesting character, and readers will become invested in his quest and fate, just as they will for the fates of his companions. (Spoiler: not everyone’s going to get out of this one alive…)

Scalera’s artwork is a little strange, quite angular, but by no means unattractive. He does a great job of giving Remender’s story life, merging the weird and scientific excellently. It’s an eye-catching book, certainly.

Overall, then, a highly recommended new series for every fan of science fiction, sci-fi comics, and interdimensional story-telling. This was a lot of fun. I really can’t wait for volume two!

Hinterkind, Vol.1 – “The Waking World” (Vertigo)

Hinterkind-01-ArtWriter: Ian Edginton | Artist: Francesco Trifogli

In a post-apocalyptic world where humans have been pushed to the edge of extinction by the creatures of fantasy and fables, THE HINTERKIND tells the story of one young woman’s quest to fulfill her destiny and put the world right again.

Fifty-seven years after an unspecified biological event has all but wiped out the human race, a green hand has moved over the face of the Earth. Leaf, root and shoot have steadfastly smothered the works of man, remorselessly grinding the concrete, glass and steel back into the minerals from whence they came. Mother Nature is reclaiming what’s rightfully hers but she’s not the only one…

The Hinterkind have returned. They come from hiding places in the lost corners of the world: Centaurs, Satyrs, Elves, Dwarves, Ogres, Trolls, Werewolves, Vampires…

They’re also known as “the Hidden,” “the Twilight People,” the “walkers-in-shadow,” collective names for the menagerie that mankind has hung its tales of myth and magic upon – but these aren’t fairy tale creatures. They are flesh, blood and passion, and they have a long simmering hatred of humanity.

They are a divergent species. Exotic evolutionary try-outs that couldn’t compete with the rapacious ape. Hunted to near extinction through fear and ignorance, they fled to the great forests and deserts, losing themselves in the shrinking wilderness of an ever-expanding world.

Now the wilderness is the world and mankind is in the minority.

Collects: HINTERKIND #1-6

This is a strange, promising, and yet somewhat flawed start to a new series.

The first issue presents a fantastic post-apocalyptic world – one in which human society has been near-destroyed, global populations brought to the brink of extinction. Our protagonists are based in Central Park, New York, and have built a working community: foraging for leftover items in the over-grown city around them, hunting the wildlife. It’s a stunning start, actually, and I was immediately drawn to the setting. The characters and writing were strong, and they were well-realised by the artwork.

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Then things started to get a bit weird, and this is where (for me) the series stumbled: it became very busy, and the story grew expansive so quickly, that the mash-up of genres started to feel like it was trying too hard. I hesitated for a bit, deciding on how much detail this review should go in to, but I think it’s worth pointing some things out: there are army survivors similar to Buffy’s Initiative (only, weirder), the sidhe and other fairytale creatures have proliferated across the world, and the post-apocalyptic environment can cause mutations. All of this is revealed over this one book. I feel it may have been better to unveil the overall world more gradually, teasing us with possibilities, rather than dumping them all on in very quick succession.

Nevertheless, there’s a lot to enjoy in this book. The artwork is eye-catching; the writing is well-composed; and the characters are pretty interesting. I’m certainly looking forward to reading volume two, when it’s available.

Not the best start to a new Vertigo series, but still better than a lot of other publishers’ new books.

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Original Issue Covers #1-6, by Greg Tocchini

Rat Queens, Vol.1 – “Sass & Sorcery” (Image Comics)

Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe | Artist: Roc Upchurch

Who are the Rat Queens?

A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit.

It’s also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

Collects: Rat Queens #1-5

In the tradition of Skullkickers (also published by Image) and Princeless, Rat Queens is a tongue-in-cheeky, funny take on traditional sword-and-sorcery tropes. We have the classic fantasy band of adventurers, with an amusing dynamic. That they happen to all be women is a nice touch, too, and Wiebe clearly shows (without any type of preaching) that there’s no reason why only big, hulking male barbarians or wizened, white-bearded sages have to be at the centre of fantasy adventures. Someone in the Rat Queen’s home town is setting up the local mercenary bands – engineering deadly assignments intended to eradicate them entirely. Unfortunately for the conspiracists, the Rat Queens won’t go down without a fight, a lot of killing and plenty of raucous fun.

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As the first volume, we’re still only just getting to know the characters by the end, but I am very eager to read more of their adventures. There is a perfect balance between action, story, and just plain fun in this first volume. At the same time, Wiebe does not ignore the importance of character development, and we start to see them develop a good deal over the course of this collection – there’s still plenty of scope for expansion, which I have no doubt the creative team will firmly exploit in the future.

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There were so many great touches throughout that just made me like the characters more – the unusual, perhaps conflicting character traits and mannerisms they have round them out wonderfully (one, for example, has extreme social anxiety, despite being able to throw down with a troll – below), and even after this short introduction to them, we start to see them as fully-rounded, three-dimensional characters. The dialogue and interaction between the cast is sharp and funny. There are a fair few background gags and asides that a quick read might miss (poor, put upon Dave, for example).

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The artwork is clear, if slightly cartoony. This does not detract from the story, rather it enhances and complements it perfectly – Upchurch realises the action and visual gags extremely well. Like my other favourite artists, Upchurch has a gift for drawing and presenting facial expressions, and conveying so much with a simply smirk, raised eyebrow, or knowing glance. It really adds an excellent, bonus nuance to how the characters interact with each other.

A must-read for fantasy and comics fans. Long live the Rat Queens! Can’t wait to read book two.

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Suicide Risk, Vol.1 (Boom Studios/Titan Comics)

SuicideRisk-Vol.1-ArtWriter: Mike Carey | Artist: Elena Casagrande

Even when there are only villains, being a hero makes you a…

Super-powered people are inexplicably rising from the streets and there’s a big problem: Too many supervillains, not enough superheroes. Heroes are dying, and cops are dying twofold. Humanity is underpowered in the face of their onslaught, and people are suffering untold casualties trying to stem the flow.

After barely surviving a super-powered bank heist gone horribly wrong, beat cop Leo Winters vowed to try and find a way to stop them. Following a lead, he discovered two lowlifes who seemed to be able to grant a person powers… for the right price. Thing is: you don’t get to choose which power. It’s seemingly random, a crap-shoot, a risk. Will Leo decide to take that risk? And why is it that even the heroes in this world eventually break?

Collects: Suicide Risk #1-4

I have long been a fan of Mike Carey’s work – his comic-series The Unwritten and Lucifer (Vertigo) are easily among my top five favourites; and his most recent novel, The Girl With All the Gifts (Orbit) is one of my favourite reads this year. Carey’s new original ongoing series is a great one. Anyone interested in superheroes should check this out. Continue reading

Princeless Vol.1 – “Save Yourself” (Action Lab)

Princeless-Vol.1Writer: Jeremy Whitley | Art: M. Goodwin

Princeless is the story of Princess Adrienne, one princess who’s tired of waiting to be rescued. Join Adrienne, her guardian dragon, Sparky, and their plucky friend Bedelia as they begin their own quest in this one of a kind, action packed, all-ages adventure!

Collects: Princeless Vol.1 #1-4

This was a very pleasant surprise. It’s a progressive, all-ages comic book that should have massive appeal across age groups. The story is witty, well-written, and the artwork is filled with amusing and eye-catching details. I really enjoyed this, and think a lot of others will, too.

The story and ‘message’ (not wanting to get too academic about this) is also very good. It’s a story about a princess rebelling against the Fantasy/Fairy Tale Archetypes. It begins with her shrewdly pointing out the idiocy of sticking princesses in towers in the middle of nowhere guarded by hungry dragons. It’s the only time the financial flaw in such a plan has been pointed out… The rest of the book picks up on a number of fantasy tropes, not to mention the archaic conventions related to women (young, old, noble, and peasant). There were so many scenes that made me laugh or smile. Not only the moment when our heroine discovered the sword under her bed (“Oooh. Shiny.”); but also the excellent scene in which she acquires her own, proper armour.

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I won’t go into any more detail than that, as I think it would ruin many of the other jokes. You’ll find a great protagonist in Adrienne, you’ll grow attached to her new (almost Chewbacca-meets-dog) dragon companion, her zany new ally, and her brother is pretty great, too. I urge everyone to read this. If it found its way into the hands of young readers everywhere, as well as adults’, then it could do a lot for breaking down gender barriers in storytelling and genre fiction/media (in the long and short term).

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Princeless is a must-read for anyone looking for a progressive, fun comic book. Also perfect for anyone who enjoyed Frozen and other similar movies. I really can’t wait to read volume two. Very highly recommended.

Cemetery Girl, Vol.1 – “The Pretenders” by Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden (Jo Fletcher Books)

Harris&Golden-CemeteryGirl1-PretendersAn excellent first part in an original graphic novel trilogy by two New York Times bestselling authors

Writers: Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden | Art: Don Kramer | Colours: Daniele Rudoni | Letters: Jacob Bascle

She calls herself Calexa Rose Dunhill — names taken from the grim surroundings where she awoke, bruised and bloody, with no memory of who she is, how she got there, or who left her for dead.

She has made the cemetery her home, living in a crypt and avoiding human contact. But Calexa can’t hide from the dead — and because she can see spirits, they can’t hide from her.

Then one night, Calexa spies a group of teenagers vandalizing a grave — and watches in horror as they commit murder. As the victim’s spirit rises from her body, it flows into Calexa, overwhelming her mind with visions and memories not her own.

Now Calexa must make a decision: continue to hide to protect herself — or come forward to bring justice to the sad spirit who has reached out to her for help…

This is Charlaine Harris’s first original graphic novel project. Teaming up with fellow New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden, they have come up with something pretty interesting, too. The Pretenders is the first part of a trilogy, and as a result does not present a tidy ending. In fact, rather the opposite: by the end of the book, Calexa has helped solve one crime, it’s true, but along the way readers will be confronted by a number of intriguing questions and mysterious goings-on – be they Calexa’s memories or her new-found powers.

The artwork throughout is pretty good – it’s nothing particularly unique, but it is clean and clear; and overall the compositions enrich the story and realise it in a vivid, eye-catching manner. The story itself moves at a good clip: despite the relative slimness of the book, the story doesn’t feel rushed, but not does it feel drawn out. In fact much of the story focuses on Calexa getting used to, and making her life in the cemetery (now you know where the series title comes from), and I actually liked this. The Urban Fantasy equivalent of the Origin Story, perhaps? The synopsis states that she avoids people, which is for the most part true, however, despite her sneaking about, there are a couple of people who learn of her existence and extend a helping hand (albeit clandestinely). For me, it was this part of the story – one of unexpected kindness and help – that stood out. No doubt, with parts two and three, the supernatural shenanigans and Calexa’s past will be unveiled. I’m certainly looking forward to finding out the true about what brought our protagonist to the cemetery in the first place, but in the meantime, The Pretenders is a great introduction to this setting.

Recommended for all fans of Harris’s and Golden’s previous prose-fiction, but also Urban Fantasy as a whole and comics that dabble in similar territories (for example, the Buffy graphic novels, which Golden has also worked on).

Marvel Graphic Novel Catch-Up: Fearless Defenders, Avengers, and Thor

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Three new Marvel NOW collections that I’ve read and enjoyed recently. I had my doubts about the new re-launch/re-boot, but I have actually rather enjoyed the stories themselves (despite, sometimes, only have movie knowledge to get me situated…).

Reviewed: Avengers, Fearless Defenders, Thor: God of Thunder

FEARLESS DEFENDERS, Vol.1 – “Doom Maidens”

FearlessDefenders-Vol.01Writer: Cullen Bunn | Artist: Will Sliney | Colors: Veronica Gandini

New team! New villains! New creators!Valkyrie and Misty Knight are the Fearless Defenders, and not since Power Man and Iron Fist has an unlikely duo kicked this much – well, you know.

Collects: Fearless Defenders #1-6

Cullen Bunn offers up  an all-female team of super-heroines, with a distinctly mythological slant. The story is fun and quirky, with Bunn’s signature, gentle humour often on display – witty asides, amusing narrative moments, and pretty great characterisation. I wasn’t wholly gripped, as I have been with some of his other work (The Sixth Gun remains one of my favourite series of all time). The artwork is good, sometimes a little exaggerated (think Marvel in the 1990s, perhaps). There’s some darkness in the story, too, which offered a nice balance to the levity, although I think I would have preferred to see that a little more developed. By the end, I thought I knew the characters rather well, but that the story had been a bit thin.

It was recently announced, I think, that this is being cancelled. That’s a pity, as I think this could have grown into something pretty cool, if given time. I’ll certainly be reading the remaining issues, though.

*

AVENGERS, Vol.1 – “Avengers World”

Avengers-Vol.01Writer: Jonathan Hickman | Artist: Jerome Opeña (#1-3), Adam Kubert (#4-6) | Colors: Dean White, Justin Ponsor, Morry Hollowell, Frank Martin, Richard Isanove (#1-3), Frank D’Armata (#4), Frank Martin (#5-6)

The greatest heroes in comics together on one unbeatable team! The Avengers “go large”, expanding their roster and their sphere of influence to a global and even interplanetary level. When Captain America puts out his call – who will answer? Big threats, big ideas, big idealism – these are the Avengers NOW!

Collects: Avengers #1-6

Captain America and Iron Man are rebuilding the Avengers. They’re using a more sophisticated organisational model, this time (it’s not as dull to read about as that sounds…). Meanwhile, Ex Nihilo, Abyss and Aleph have been terra-forming Mars and lobbing “evolution bombs” at Earth, re-writing Evolution. As you do. And, collaterally, killing whole bunches of people all over the world. Naturally, this irks the Avengers. After the core Avengers team confronted them at the start, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor and Hawkeye are held captive by these new baddies. Ex Nihilo likes to monologue. Cap is sent back to Earth to “bring everyone”. And then… We get one of the most anti-climactic conclusions in issue/chapter 3. It’s a total deus-ex-machina, couldn’t-be-bothered moment. Sadly fails to deliver, and I felt rather disappointed.

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Recruiting, Avengers-Style

The second story in the book looks at the clean-up after the evolution bombs, from different perspectives, coupled with the backgrounds of some newer Avengers recruits (new for me, at any rate). First, Hyperion (a rather emo-God-type from another dimension, who seems to miss his former station on his world). Second, Smasher (a female “guardian”, or “subguardian” – basically, a Green Lantern with cool tech, a mask instead of a ring, and attached to the Shi’ar Empire, rather than the, uh, Guardians…). And third, Captain Universe (who appears to be a god… or perhaps the origin of all things… It’s not entirely clear…).

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Three Moments of Levity: Bruce Banner explains himself (top), Thor confuses Tony (bottom, left),
and Thor is unimpressed by puny human’s idea of “Godlike”…

Overall, though, this isn’t a bad start to the new Avengers series. There’s a lot of rather cryptic information. Certainly, the Avengers are going Bigger. Hopefully it won’t become too silly in the future, but I am looking forward to reading Vol.2, “The White Event”. The artwork is pretty fantastic, too. Lots of great detail, rich colors, and it really pops throughout.

*

ThorGodOfThunder-Vol.01Thor: God of Thunder, Vol.1 – “The God Butcher”

Writer: Jason Aaron | Artist: Esad Ribic | Colors: Dean White (#1), Ive Svorcina (#2-5)

Throughout the ages, gods have been vanishing, their mortal worshippers left in chaos. Now, Thor follows a trail of blood that threatens to consume his past, present and future. The only hope for these ravaged worlds is for Thor to unravel the gruesome mystery of the God Butcher!

In the distant past, Thor follows the bloody wake of murdered gods across the depths of space. In the present, the Thunder God discovers a forgotten cave that echoes with the cries of tortured gods… and is shocked to find himself among them! And thousands of years from now, the last god-king of a ruined Asgard makes his final stand against the God Butcher’s beserker legions. As three Thors from three eras race to stop the God Butcher, the full extent of his vicious scheme takes terrifying shape!

Collects: Thor – God of Thunder #1-5

Another great start to a new Marvel NOW series. This is the first Thor solo series I’ve ever read, and I think Aaron does a great job of offering a starting point – given that the story hops between three times (past, present, and very far future), there’s no need to be greatly versed in the Thor mythology (Norse or Marvel’s). We see the character develop a bit, and a millennia-long struggle against the God Butcher, who – true to his name – has been working his way through the various pantheons of the universe, culling the numbers of deities. Thor, the only one to give him much of a challenge, has been chosen as the Last, in order that he sees his fellow gods killed, one-by-one.

It’s a solid story, and I’m certainly going to try to stick with the series for a little while. The writing is great, the story and artwork complement each other brilliantly, too. Definitely recommend this one to anyone who either likes the character already, or wants somewhere to jump on.

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Graphic Novels Catch-Up: Hulk, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Superman

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Four mini-reviews of graphic novels I have read over the last couple of weeks: Captain America: Road to Reborn and Reborn, Indestructible Hulk, Superman: Secret Identity, Wonder Woman (New 52).

INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK, Vol.1 – “Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (Marvel NOW)

IndestructibleHulk-Vol.01Writer: Mark Waid | Artist: Leinel Yu

Hulk: Indestructible force more weapon than man. Banner: Smartest man alive. Combined, they are the strongest, smartest weapon on the planet! And NOW!, the Indestructible Hulk is an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Hulk’s first official missions include taking down the all-new Quintronic Man and battling Attuma on the ocean floor! But not everything is as it seems: What is Banner’s secret hold over S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill? What and where is Bannertown, USA? And which one of Banner’s lab assistants holds a deadly secret? Plus: Bruce Banner and Tony Stark are friends but Hulk and Iron Man are anything but!

Collects: Indestructible Hulk #1-5

I read the first issue of this collection when it was first released, and rather liked the approach Waid took to the character. Bruce Banner is hired on by S.H.I.E.L.D., who continue to be wary of… the Other Guy. He’s given his own research team and lab – located at “Bannertown”. The story is pretty good, to start with, as we get reacquainted with Banner and his constant struggle with the Hulk inside him. He goes on a mission with Tony Stark (Hulk doesn’t like Iron Man very much). Then things get rather weird… The story moves into Exaggerated Comic Story, which was a little annoying, after the rather good, nuanced beginning. I would have preferred a little more investigation of Banner’s state of mind, etc. It’s strange that Waid didn’t offer this, actually, given his stellar work on series such as Irredeemable (still one of my favourite stories of all time – comic or otherwise).

There’s an underwater adventure that seemed to come out of nowhere, a big battle, and then we get sent back to Bannertown, where S.H.I.E.L.D. have hired a young, varied and eccentric staff to help Bruce with his research.

Yu’s artwork is, of course, as excellent and distinctive as always. I love his style, and have done ever since I read Superman: Birthright (which was also written by Waid).

It’ll be interesting to see how this series develops. I’ll be back for at least volume 2.

*

WONDER WOMAN, Vol.4 – “War” (DC New 52)

WonderWoman-Vol.4Writer: Ed Brubaker | Artist: Cliff Chiang

Wonder Woman’s world is shocked to its core when her eldest brother, the First Born, is freed from his slumber. Now, with her family in ruins and her friends scattered, she must turn to Orion and the New Gods of New Genesis to save herself and Zola’s newborn from the First Born’s wrath!

Collects: Wonder Woman #19-23

I think I may be losing interest in this series. It seems to be spinning its wheels, while also occasionally veering into excessive (but abrupt) action. I still think Brubaker and Chiang have developed a fascinating and unique take on Greek Mythology and its leading deities, creatures, and so forth. There are moments of sheer brilliance, but then also moments that just didn’t appeal. Orion, for example. What a pointless addition to the series. (Although, his presence did give rise to one of the best couple of pages, when Diana puts him in his place, tired of his provocative lechery and chauvinism – below.)

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Chiang’s artwork is great, as I’ve mentioned in reviews of previous volumes – there’s actually nothing I would fault on the visual side of things. I just didn’t love the story as much as I have in the past. Going forward, I may not follow this series as closely or quickly as I have been up to this point.

*

CAPTAIN AMERICA: ROAD TO REBORN and REBORN (Marvel)

CaptainAmerica-RoadToRebornWriter: Ed Brubaker | Artist: Dale Eaglesham, Jackson Guice, Luke Ross, Gene Colan, Dave Gutierrez, Rick Magyar, Bryan Hitch

Road to Reborn: Sharon Carter’s dreams are forcing her to relive the death of Steve Rogers – and her time under the control of Dr. Faustus. But will these dreams also reveal hidden secrets about what she saw and did on the day Steve died.

Reborn: Captain America – Steve Rogers – is reborn, but is he the hero we know and love? Or is the new Captain merely a pawn of the Red Skull, or perhaps something worse? And what is Norman Osborn doing lurking on the fringes?

Collects: Captain America #49-50; #600-601
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Yup, I’m still working my way through the fifth series of Captain America (Marvel refers to it as “Vol.5”, but given that each collection is a “Volume” as well, it gets confusing – hence the use of “series”). I’m still really enjoying it, and I think Brubaker’s characterisation of Steve Rogers, Bucky, and their myriad companions is brilliant. The antagonists remain delightfully cartoon-y – perhaps the only thing that hasn’t aged quite as well as the concept as a whole. Both of these books were very heavy on the nostalgia – even featuring a story about Captain America memorabilia collectors.

CaptainAmerica-RebornReborn ends with a massive battle on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, as Steve Rogers must wrest control of his body from the Red Skull, whose consciousness has been implanted into the original Captain America’s body. Confused? Yeah, well, it turns out that the “assassination” was not, in fact, an assassination. Apparently, the Red Skull and Arnim Zola had planned to take Cap out of time (or something)… Why? Why didn’t the decades-old nemeses want to actually kill their enemy? Because the Red Skull apparently wanted to become him. Paging Doktor Freud…

Overall, though, not bad. Not the best in the series, but still enjoyable. It’ll be nice to see how the story goes forward, with Bucky still operating as Captain America. I actually rather like Bucky in the role, too – he adds some extra dimensions and insecurities, not to mention methodology. Next in the series is Captain America: Two Americas, which I’ll be reading pretty soon. [I will catch up!]

*

SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY (DC)

Superman-SecretIdentityWriter: Kurt Busiek | Artist: Stuart Immonen

What’s in a name? Everything, if you share it with the Man of Steel!

Set in the real world, SECRET IDENTITY examines the life of a young Kansas man with the unfortunate name of Clark Kent. All Clark wants is to be a writer, but his daily life is filled with the taunts and jibes of his peers, comparing him to that other Clark Kent — the one with super-powers. Until one day when Clark awakens to discover that he can fly… that he does in fact have super-strength! But where did these powers come from? And what’s he going to do about it?

This was a wonderful surprise. Also, a bargain at only $4 (during one of ComiXology’s Superman-related sales, each of the four extra-length issues was only $1). It’s a wonderfully-told story, too. It’s picaresque, following a “real-life” Clark Kent without powers, who has long been plagued by amused relatives and friends gifting him any number of Superman-related memorabilia, toys, and so forth. Then, one day during his teens, he actually develops Superman’s powers. What happens next? Well, that’s the story of this collection, which takes us from Clark’s youth through to old age. We see his life unfold, as he takes a job at a New York journal, gets a book deal, marries someone called Lois (though not “- Lane”, and of Indian descent), and has two daughters. Along the way, he must constantly protect his family and himself from the attentions of the government. He forms a working-relationship with one agent, though, and they strike a deal for moving forward and not getting in each other’s way or on each other’s nerves.

The artwork is pretty good. It’s slightly different from what I’ve seen of Immonen’s other artwork (if I recall correctly), but it does suit the nostalgic and emotional nuance of the story. It’s brilliant, really. Very highly recommended for any lover of Superman stories, looking for something a little different.

*

Some upcoming comic reviews: Sixth Gun, Vol.5; Avengers, Vol.1 (Marvel NOW), American Vampire, Vol.2; Walking Dead, Vol.1 (just in time for Halloween, hopefully); Locke & Key, Vol.2; Atomic Robo, Vol.1; Saga, Vol.2; Thief of Thieves, Vol.1… And no doubt a few others, as I’ve been reading a fair few.

“A1 Annual: The World’s Greatest Comics” (Titan Books)

A1-WorldsGreatestComics-Vol.1An interesting collection, from a broad selection of creators and talents

Writers: RON MARZ, MATT WAGNER, DAVE JOHNSON, DAVE ELLIOTT, TOM RANEY, RUFUS DAYGLO, ANDY KUHN, DAVE DORMAN, MARK A. NELSON, W. H. RAUF AND MORE…

Artists: JIM STERANKO, DAVE WILKINS, SAMI BASRI, ALEX HORLEY, TOM RANEY, BRIAN SMITH, D’ISRAELI, GARRIE GASTONNY, MARK A. NELSON, STANLEY ARTGERM LAU, GARRY LEACH, DAVE JOHNSON, BARNABY BAGENDA, SAKTI YUWONO, DAVE DORMAN, STEVE WHITE, ANDY KUHN, KAI LIM, PHILIP TAN, RHOALD MARCELLIUS, MICHAEL T. GILBERT, SUNNY GHO, DOUG BRAITHWAITE AND MORE…

The exciting return of the award-winning graphic anthology series – for readers who want to see inside the mind of the creator, to see what truly makes them tick and witness them doing what they truly want to do!

From all around the world, the greatest comic talents are given full and free rein to explore the art of graphic storytelling.

Reviewing this book offers an interesting conundrum. It’s very bitty, as can be expected from anything referred to as an “annual”. I do, I must admit, tend to prefer a single, longer (or more substantial, at any rate) story. But there were some interesting offerings in this.

With so many people contributing, how do you select which to discuss, if not all of them? I will, therefore, keep this very short. A1: The World’s Greatest Comics is a great taster volume for all the authors and artists who have contributions printed herein. Where it’s the classic-era Kirby tale that opens the book; or Dave Elliott, Toby Cypress & Sakti Yuwono’s “Odyssey” (a Captain America analog – interesting, but sadly riddled with early typos); or Barnaby Bagenda & Jessica Kholinne’s interesting “Weirding Willows” (just three of sixteen stories included), this is an interesting volume. The artwork is varied, of course, and the stories draw from a broad range of genres. If you’re after a single story, this won’t suit, but if you’re new to comics, or want a selection of short, interesting and entertaining ‘samplers’, then this is a good option.